A well-built, thoughtfully designed 12″ bike is hard to come by. With limited space for cranks and pedals and with tiny legs to maneuver them, most 12″ bikes are poorly designed, hard to ride and are generally a waste of time. As a result, we never recommended 12″ pedal bikes, until now.
For the smallest of riders, who are eager to ride, the Cleary Gecko is their knight in shining armor. When used with the optional shorter seat post, the Gecko has a minimum seat height of 15″ (the smallest on the market, as far as we know) and allows kids in as small as 3T clothes, to simply hop on and pedal away.
Having only used a balance bike for a day, our four-year-old tester demonstrated just how easy it is to learn to ride on the Gecko. After battling his cheap 12″ bike with training wheels for months, he eager jumped on the Gecko, and after a few pushes from his older brother, simply rode away. Within a few weeks, he was eagerly and confidently jumping curbs without second thought. As a testament to the Gecko, it took him a good week or so, before he could ride his old bike without training wheels.
Weighing at a mere 15 lb., the Gecko is truly light and nimble, making it a great first pedal bike for the youngest of toddlers. The optional freewheel (no coaster brake) is also a huge benefit for toddlers as kids naturally tend to pedal backwards when learning to pedal.
During his first attempt to pedal (not on the Gecko), our three-year-old balance bike pro quickly became frustrated by the unanticipated stops when accidentally pedaling backwards. As a result, he refused to try to ride again. With some reassurance, his second time around was much more successful. With the Gecko’s freewheel option (no coaster brake) he soon felt comfortable pedaling again, but is still hesitant to ride on his own.
For those timid riders, the seat post of the Cleary can also be reversed to allow for a more upright body position. By doing so, however, the rider is placed directly over the cranks, making pedaling slightly more difficult and less efficient. For less aggressive riders, the Cleary also sells a riser handlebar, but it is almost three inches wider than the standard flat bar and is therefore not recommended for young riders.
Compared to others, the Gecko is also slightly heavier, but not significantly. Our three-year-old testers, weighing in at 32 lb., had no problems with the 15 lb. Gecko.
The Bottom Line
The Cleary Gecko is the smallest and the greatest 12″ bike on the market. Too small for most preschoolers in size 5 clothes and up, the Gecko is best suited for young balance bike graduates who are ready to ride!
FTC Disclosure: Cleary Bikes provided a Gecko to help facilitate this review. No monetary compensation was provided and all opinions given are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC. Two Wheeling Tots LLC is not an affiliate of Cleary Bikes.
Junior Bike Week in Crested Butte, Colorado, is growing up to be the biggest kids’ bike party on the planet—and very likely the only multiday festival that’s 100 percent focused on youth. Originally started as Junior Crested Butte Bike Week in 2016, the event is held in conjunction with the oldest and one of the wildest bike shindigs in America, Crested Butte Bike Week.
A real bicycle in every sense, the Cleary Gecko 12 has front and rear brakes, the option for a freewheel that a child can quickly turn over, and crankarms that will not scrape when pedaling through turns. Available in Very Orange, Cool Moss Green, Sorta Pink and Deep Blue, the bike weights 15 pounds with the freewheel option, or 17 pounds with a coaster wheel. The Gecko 12 also comes with a compact vegan leather saddle with integrated seat post designed to accommodate the earliest of early riders. Best fit for riders with 15″ to 18″ inseam
The world of kids’ bikes has been turned upside down in the past decade. Training wheels are out,balance bikesare in. There’s a slew of small bikes with suspension forks and disc brakes for little rippers. And even basic bikes have evolved to make riding easier to learn, more fun, and safer.
To take advantage of these advances, there are a couple key features to look for when picking up a new kids’ bike. Getting the size and fit right is important too; it will make sure your little one gets the most out of their new ride. Here’s what to look for, and 15 of our top recommendations, reviewed and evaluated by our test editors and proven on the road and trail by our crew of test groms.